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2nd Street Cathedral
59 East Second Street
(Between First & Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003
212-677-4664 info@nycathedral.org

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June 16, 2011

On the Relationship of the Cathedral to the Georgian Orthodox Faithful of New York (In English and Georgian)

In light of a recent article in the Georgian-language newspaper "Mamuli" circulating in New York, as well as comments made by individuals which contained unfortunate misrepresentations leveled against the clergy and Georgian parishioners of the New York/New Jersey Diocesan Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, I offer the following points of clarification as an extended hand of forgiveness, brotherly love and Christian unity.

The Cathedral initially granted the use of its Chapel of St. Innocent of Irkutsk to Fr. Alexander Tandilashvilli for Saturday Liturgies in the early 1990s, in exchange for a nominal fee to cover the costs of heat and electricity. We also provided a staff person to be present at the Liturgies, and even connected Fr. Alexander with some singers who knew Georgian. This we did with joy and with hope that the many new Georgian immigrants who were coming would find spiritual solace, and know that although they were far from home and hearth, they were loved and respected and valued here also.

In time the numbers of immigrants swelled until there were nearly 7,000 Georgians living in the metropolitan area. For six years, a Georgian priest, Archpriest Malkhaz Kumelashvili, was attached here and helped us minister to them. Over time many Georgians became members of the Cathedral, not only coming for the monthly Georgian Liturgy, but for the Sunday Liturgy as well as various weekday services. We also kept many feast days and saints days according to the Julian calendar to accommodate their needs. This we did with joy.

During this time Fr. Alexander Tandilashvili continued to come and serve the Liturgy in Georgian on some Saturdays throughout the year, and we provided him with overnight accommodations in the Cathedral so that he would not have to commute from his home in Pennsylvania in the mornings. We never forbade him use of the Cathedral under any circumstances, but welcomed him here and even invited him to serve with us at the Sunday Liturgy and on great feast days.

In that period the Cathedral became the host venue for countless Georgian cultural events and celebrations, including dance recitals, political lectures and visits of dignitaries, as well as historic commemorations such as an event marking the Battle of Didgori. For some time we had a Georgian school operating here. Choirs and musical ensembles from Georgia frequently performed, and continue to perform, in our auditorium and banquet hall. We have also provided housing for some young Georgian immigrants who were new to this country to help them out, and continue to sponsor and invite many more friends and family members of Georgians in hope that they will obtain visas. In 2006 members of the Cathedral translated, published, and publicly presented the first complete book of Lives of the Georgian Saints in English. These and related activities are ongoing.

Approximately ten years ago, Fr. Alexander Tandilashvili left his ministry in an OCA parish in Eastern Pennsylvania to found St. Nino's Georgian parishin rented facilities in Brooklyn, with the blessing of the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church in America. As of this month the parishioners of St. Ninos have now acquired their own building in Staten Island, for which we congratulate them. We welcomed this venture, as it has allowed Fr. Alexander to minister more consistently to the many thousands of Georgians in our city.

Over the past 20 years the Cathedral community has been irreversibly transformed and enriched by the presence of Georgian parishioners, many of whom have made the Cathedral their spiritual home.It is the same, for example, for the many Romanian immigrants who have made a conscious choice to be a part of the Cathedral rather than join one of the numerous Romanian parishes in the city.While the majority of our service is in English, our choir and clergy have also learned to sing part of the service in Georgian, as well as in Romanian, Slavonic and Greek.This is the reality, and I believe the future of Church life in America. We are a Church which administers the sacraments to all Orthodox Christians in New York,not just those of a particular ethnicity; with an eye to evangelism and mission,we also welcome and encourage non-Orthodox to worship with us.

Georgians are an intrinsic part of the Cathedral parish community, not just temporary visitors - they are part of our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, most beloved and always most welcome.

Archimandrite Christopher Calin
Dean, Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection
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